For Immediate Release: December 16, 2021
Media Contact: Lisa Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org, (347) 415-6431
Governor Hochul, Port Authority to Hold Amazon Accountable for Abuse of Workers and Climate Impact
NEW YORK – Today, essential workers, labor organizations, elected officials, and community advocates rallied at a downtown Amazon Go convenience store against Amazon’s growing regional monopoly and abuses, calling on Governor Hochul to implement a corporate accountability plan. The group then marched to the offices of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and spoke out against a proposed regional hub at Newark Airport, which is being negotiated without community involvement. In attendance at the rally were State Senator Jabari Brisport, Assemblymember Robert Carroll, and workers and advocates from Teamsters Joint Council 16, Teamsters Joint Council 73, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, Good Jobs Clean Air NJ, Tech Workers Coalition, Make the Road NJ, and ALIGN NY.The rally comes just days after six Amazon workers were killed and many others injured, when a tornado hit a warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois. The tragedy was another example of Amazon prioritizing profit over the health and safety of its workers. Locally, Attorney General Letitia James filed this month to appoint a monitor at an Amazon facility in Staten Island following numerous complaints about deficient health and safety practices. As the holiday shopping season hits its peak, workers are under pressure to meet grueling quotas and endure dangerous conditions, while Amazon’s pursuit of dominance consistently comes at the expense of workers, their communities, and the environment.
“The events of this weekend are devastating and sadly not surprising, because Amazon routinely displays a lack of care for its workers,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director of ALIGN, a key leader for New Yorkers for a Fair Economy. “What happened in Illinois is unacceptable and we must do better. It is imperative that Governor Hochul and the legislature implement a corporate accountability plan that reins in Amazon’s rampant economic power and protects the health and safety of warehouse workers and their communities.”
Community members and essential workers spoke out against Amazon using their economic and political power to lower workplace standards and drive down wages for workers, create an unfair and abusive climate for small businesses, and increase truck pollution as they expand their regional footprint, exacerbating public health risks in neighborhoods especially affected by the climate crisis, often Black and brown communities.
Amazon’s growth has skyrocketed during the pandemic, with more than 15 new facilities opening in the region since 2019. Legislation like the 21st Century Antitrust Act would hold Amazon accountable by limiting their share of the market, ensuring that dominant corporations can’t abuse their power. By updating New York’s current antitrust law, written over 100 years ago, the bill would provide workers, consumers, and local businesses with significant new protections and put New York at the forefront of the national fight against corporate control over the economy.
“As Amazon’s grip on our economy grows stronger, our communities must stand up for themselves. Its treatment of workers and our environment is deeply troubling and I am proud to stand with those advancing meaningful solutions to these serious challenges,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, sponsor of the antitrust bill.
“Each day the world is becoming increasingly aware of Amazon’s pervasive and negative influence in our communities. As one of the worst employers and most anti-union companies in the country, Amazon has repeatedly shown that it is no friend of workers and the communities in which they live. Along with growing awareness of Amazon’s behavior, we need action to rein in their dominance and to empower workers and communities to stand up to Amazon,” said Stuart Appelbaum, RWDSU President.
On the Port Authority deal, George Boada, Teamsters Local 863 said, “I am a life-long resident of Elizabeth and am raising my family in this community. The area around Newark Airport is already extremely congested and has terrible air quality. That’s why I’m so concerned about this Amazon Airhub being proposed in secret without addressing our community’s concerns or asking for our input. If this deal is being negotiated in secret, it stands to reason it’s not beneficial to anyone except Amazon and the Port Authority. If the ‘benefits’ they are touting for our community are Amazon’s low wages, high turnover, and unsafe jobs that undermine the industry standards, as a proud Teamster, warehouse worker, and community member, I say, ‘NO THANK YOU!’ I am not willing to sacrifice my family’s health and wellbeing in exchange for bad jobs.”
“It is time that New York stand with the South Bronx and similar environmental justice communities, and hold e-commerce corporations accountable for their negative impact now so that we aren’t fighting for another generation for basic healthy human rights,” said Danny R. Peralta, Executive Managing Director of THE POINT Community Development Corporation. “After almost 30 years of community development, why are we still fighting for healthy water and air, development without displacement, well-paying and meaningful employment, schools that teach our children to be free, and stronger bonds with the natural environment?”
Photos of the rally are available here, credit: Zachary Schulman.
Livestream coverage is available on ALIGN NY’s Facebook Page.
Video footage is available upon request.
About New Yorkers for a Fair Economy
New Yorkers for a Fair Economy (NYFE) is a coalition of labor organizations, small businesses, and immigrant and community organizations uniting to safeguard our communities from abusive practices of big corporations and achieve an economy that works for all New Yorkers. This coalition includes the frontline workers who care and provide for our communities, the small businesses that provide essential services that we need, the community organizations that protect the environment and the dignity of Black, brown, immigrant and gender-oppressed communities that make up our diverse state. NYFE is led by ALIGN (Alliance for a Greater New York), which also led the NY Essential Workers Coalition that won the passage of the NY HERO Act earlier this year. NYFE is also joined by labor unions Teamsters Joint Council 16, Retail Wholesale, and Department Store Union; community groups New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York; and national research and advocacy organizations Institute for Local Self Reliance, American Economic Liberties Project, and Strategic Organizing Center.
ALIGN (Alliance for a Greater New York) is a longstanding alliance of labor and community organizations united for a just and sustainable New York. ALIGN works at the intersection of economy, environment, and equity to make change and build movement. Our model addresses the root causes of economic injustice by forging strategic coalitions, shaping the public debate through strategic communications, and developing policy solutions that make an impact.